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The Ducan Diet: Facts About The Risks And Benefits Of The World's Most Popular Weight Loss System


Source: RBC

The Ducan Diet is one of the most advertised weight loss methods. How does the diet work, what is the "correct" weight and why eating according to Dukan can be dangerous - says RBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

Who is Pierre Ducan

The creator of the popular diet is not a nutritionist, but a therapist. Pierre Dukan was in general practice when an obese patient came to him in 1970. The man admitted that for the sake of losing weight, he is ready to give up any food except meat. The doctor developed a diet based on lean meat, non-starchy vegetables, and a minimum amount of fruit. Abandoning sugar became a prerequisite.

Ducan argued that such a diet is best for natural metabolism: primitive man ate meat, seasonal vegetables and fruits. Sugar in our understanding was inaccessible to him and therefore it should be abandoned now.

Screenshot: Silver Rain / YouTube

After 30 years of experimentation and observation, Pierre Ducan released the book I Can't Lose Weight, which became a bestseller in 32 countries. The new method promised the ability to lose 5 kg in one to two weeks, without limiting yourself in the amount of food.

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Celebrities who openly praised the new method added popularity to Ducan's designs. Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bündchen used the diet to lose weight after pregnancy and childbirth. Welsh singer Catherine Jenkins claims to be in shape by feeding on Ducan's plan.

In 2012, the French Council of Physicians indicated that the nutritionist violated ethical principles by making medicine a commercial enterprise. In 2014, Pierre Ducan was expelled from the register of doctors for advertising and promoting the method.

What is the principle of diet

The Ducan diet implies a protein diet with a minimum of carbohydrates and fats. The scheme includes 100 products that can be eaten in any volume in the first weeks.

The method largely mirrors the ketogenic diet and other low-carb meal plans, where the body is rebuilding itself to get energy from fat and protein. The high protein content of food helps balance the production of insulin and reduces the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. We are satiated faster and we eat less. However, the Ducan diet restricts not only carbohydrates, but also fats. The safety and benefits of this approach are not supported by research.

Before moving on to a Ducan meal plan, you need to calculate your "correct" weight. This can be done using a special calculator. The calculation is based on data on height, maximum and minimum weight, age, structural features of the body. The calculator was developed by Pierre Dukan, so it is worth checking the result using scientific methods and consulting your doctor.

Ducan's diet is divided into four phases:

  • Атака
  • Alternation
  • Fastening
  • Stabilization

Noticeable weight loss begins already in the attack phase, which motivates you to continue eating according to the Ducan method. The reason for the rapid weight loss is dehydration, as due to the lack of carbohydrates, the body loses fluid. However, experts do not confirm the long-term effectiveness of the method and the health benefits of the diet. Let's figure out how the diet works and why it has many contraindications.

Stages of diet

The diet consists of four parts, the duration of which depends on the calculated "correct" weight. The first two stages are aimed at losing weight, and the final ones are aimed at consolidating the achievements. During the attack, only high protein foods are allowed. Then add non-starchy vegetables, limited fat, and extra carbohydrates.

The duration of the attack, alternation and reinforcement depends on how many kilos you need to lose in order to achieve the "correct" weight. The final stage, which must be adhered to constantly, combines the diet of the fixing phase and weekly protein days in an attack pattern.

Attack. The phase lasts from two to seven days. If you need to lose 20 kg or more to achieve the “correct” weight, the stage may take longer. The meal plan includes 68 protein foods and a few additional ones:

  • meat: beef, veal, venison and other game, pork, lean and soy bacon, liver, kidneys, tongue
  • poultry: chicken fillet and liver, turkey, wild duck, quail, low-fat turkey and chicken sausages
  • fish and seafood: no limit, including canned tuna in water
  • vegetarian proteins: seitan - vegetable protein, meat substitute made from wheat gluten, vegetarian burgers and soy products, tofu and tempeh
  • eggs: chicken, quail, duck
  • low-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta - no more than 1 kg per day
Screenshot: Lenka / YouTube

The daily diet must include 1,5 tablespoons of oat bran and at least 1,5 liters of water. You can also add a tablespoon of goji berries, sweeteners, shirataki noodles, and unlimited dietary gelatin.

Every day you need to devote 20 minutes of physical activity.

Alternation. The period of gradual achievement of the correct weight takes from a month to a year. The diet from the previous phase alternates every other day with a more gentle and extended menu - 32 types of vegetables are added:

  • spinach, kale, lettuce, and other green vegetables
  • broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
  • Bulgarian peppers
  • mushrooms
  • celery
  • asparagus
  • artichokes
  • zucchini
  • tomatoes
  • green beans
  • onion
  • pumpkin and pumpkin spaghetti
  • turnips
  • cucumbers
  • carrot
  • beet

Allowed a teaspoon of olive oil for salad dressing or cooking in a pan and two tablespoons of bran. The period of physical activity is 30 minutes.

Fastening. The duration of the stage is determined at the rate of ten days for each lost kilogram. The goal is to prevent a return to the starting weight. You can mix any of the products from the first two steps, as well as add a limited amount of fat and carbohydrates:

  • fruits: berries or sliced ​​melon (100 g), medium apple, orange, pear, peach, nectarine, or two kiwi, plum or apricot
  • two slices of whole grain bread a day
  • cheese, 40 g per day
  • starchy foods, 225 g per day: pasta, corn, beans, beans, rice, or potatoes
  • meat: roast beef, pork, or ham once or twice a week

Twice a week you can have a festive meal: appetizer, main course, glass of wine and dessert. One day a week should be protein (attack pattern). Bran - 2,5 tablespoons, physical activity - 25 minutes.

Stabilization. The final step to help maintain the "correct" weight. There are no strict dietary restrictions, but you need to follow several principles:

  • food from the fixing phase should be taken as the basis of nutrition
  • save one protein day a week
  • walk at least 20-30 minutes a day
  • drink 1,5 liters of water and eat at least 30 g of bran per day

The last step involves following your meal plan on a 100-food list with little extras.

Menu for the initial stages


  • Breakfast: low-fat cottage cheese mixed with bran and cinnamon, coffee or tea, water. You can add skim milk and sweetener to tea and coffee at any meal.
  • Lunch: chicken breast in a frying pan, shirataki noodles in broth, diet gelatin, iced tea.
  • Dinner: steak and shrimp, diet gelatin, coffee or tea, water.


  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs from three eggs, tomato slices, coffee, water.
  • Lunch: Fried chicken and salad with French dressing, Greek bran yogurt, iced tea.
  • Dinner: baked salmon fillet, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, diet gelatin, decaffeinated coffee or tea, water.


  • Breakfast: an omelet of three eggs with cheese (40 g) and spinach, coffee, water.
  • Lunch: a serving of turkey with two slices of whole grain bread, 80 g of cottage cheese mixed with bran and cinnamon, iced tea.
  • Dinner: pork in a pan and grilled zucchini, a small apple, decaffeinated coffee, water.

Effectiveness of the Ducan diet

No diet alone provides a long-term weight loss effect, and diet can be unhealthy. After a temporary weight loss, people return to their previous state, and sometimes they recover more strongly than before the change in diet. A safe and effective way to achieve the desired weight and maintain health and good physical shape is with the help of specialists to choose a suitable lifestyle and diet scheme that you can really follow on a regular basis.

There are many scientific publications that focus on the efficacy of high protein, low carbohydrate diets. However, there are few qualified studies using Ducan's method.

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In 2015, data from 50 women aged 19-64 were compiled in Poland who followed the Ducan meal plan and consumed about 1 calories per day, including 100 g of protein. The study participants lost 15 kg in 8-10 weeks.

In January, US News & World Report, one of the top three US weeklies on economics, politics, and health, published a diet ranking of 23 experts. Ducan's diet came in last on the list, receiving 1,9 out of 5 points. Experts rated the diet's efficacy at 2,5 and the health benefits at 2. According to doctors, there is no evidence that losing weight according to the Ducan method can be long-term and safe, while the list of products is unreasonably limited, and dietary rules are too complicated. One expert openly called the diet "idiotic."

The diet is effective in the first few weeks. There is no scientific research to support sustained weight loss, and the long-term health effects of diet have not been studied.

The harm of the Ducan diet

The diet is presumably suitable for healthy people over 18 years of age. The method is not recommended for chronic gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic disorders, hormonal disorders, pregnancy, breastfeeding.

The diet has all the downsides of low-carb diets, as well as a few specific side effects, since many healthy foods are excluded from the meal plan.

Fast weight loss

The main advantage of the Ducan diet, according to British nutritional experts, is that it can be harmful to health:

  • Initial weight loss comes from dehydration
  • The diet is not balanced, so you need to take extra vitamins
  • Keep in mind the daily amount of water and the required serving of oat bran to ensure a minimum of fiber

Disease risk

Due to a lack of vitamins and beneficial trace elements, a diet can provoke:

  • osteoporosis
  • problems with the digestive system and gastrointestinal tract
  • heart and vascular diseases
  • hormonal disorders
  • nervous system disorders


When changing the diet, a painful condition is possible, which is characteristic of the initial stage of diets with a large amount of protein. The reason for feeling unwell is a change in metabolism, as the body is rebuilding itself to receive energy from fats and protein. Fatigue, increased hunger and thirst, problems with attention and sleep, mood swings, headaches, indigestion and tachycardia may be felt for several days.

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Scientists speculate that avoiding this diet could lead to future health problems. And because the diet is limited, most people eventually stop eating according to the plan - they get bored and uncomfortable sticking to a list of 100 foods and the rules for their rotation.

The Ducan diet is presumably suitable for most healthy people, but has serious contraindications. This diet can provoke diseases of the cardiovascular, digestive and nervous systems, as well as hormonal disorders.

Key facts about the Ducan diet


  • Ducan method helps to lose weight quickly
  • in the first two weeks, you can skip calories and eat allowed foods with almost no restrictions
  • a large amount of protein dulls hunger and helps to eat less
  • diet provides for mandatory physical activity


  • rapid weight loss occurs due to dehydration of the body
  • the list of foods is limited, so the body does not receive the necessary nutrients. During protein days, there are no vegetables in the diet, in the next stages the amount of carbohydrates is limited
  • the fiber content in the diet is below the daily norm - 5 g instead of the recommended 25-38 g
  • there is no scientific evidence that such nutrition leads to sustainable weight loss
  • no data on the effects of diet on health in the long term

Doctor's comment

Alexandra Razarenova, nutritionist, nutritionist, therapist, member of the Russian Union of Nutritionists, Nutritionists and Food Industry Specialists, shared her opinion on the popular diet. Further from the first person.

The Ducan Diet is one of the most famous ways to lose weight. And this diet was tried in due time by most of the patients who come to me for consultation.

A reasonable question arises: why, then, do they need the professional help of a nutritionist-nutritionist? The answer is simple: the majority of those who have lost weight returned to their previous eating habits, which means, to their original weight within a few years. Unfortunately, this is the flip side of most diets that people resort to in pursuit of slimness. And the Ducan diet is no exception.

But this is not the most important argument because of which I would not recommend resorting to this diet.

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The main harm of this type of nutrition is the lack of essential macro- and microelements for a long time. The lack of vitamins and minerals can be compensated for with special biologically active complexes, but this does not replace the natural intake of natural macro- and microelements. Such deficiency conditions lead to a decrease in immunity, a deterioration in the work of all organs and systems of the body.

Dukan's diet increases the load on the excretory system, the liver, therefore it is categorically contraindicated for people with chronic renal and hepatic insufficiency, for pregnant and lactating women, for those with impaired protein metabolism, gout, urolithiasis and cholelithiasis. And also during an exacerbation of chronic diseases - gastritis, ulcers, pancreatitis, cholecystitis, pyelonephritis.

"Dukan's diet is a serious stress for the body, the potential harm from it significantly exceeds the benefit, and the result is very unstable in the long term," Razarenova is convinced.

Follow the principles of optimal nutrition, have adequate physical activity, and monitor your sleep and drinking regime. The desired result will not be long in coming, and your health will be in order.

The material is published for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and does not replace medical advice. ForumDaily Woman is not responsible for any diagnosis made by the reader based on the site's materials, as well as for the consequences of self-medication, and may not share the point of view of the author or expert.

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